Introduction

Professor Pieter F Craffert is a research professor and
Chair of Department (College of Human Sciences) at the New Testament University
of South Africa in Pretoria wrote the article referenced above. A few of his
other publications include; “Meeting the Living among the Dead”, “Mediating
Divine Power”, and “Illness and Healing in the Biblical World”.

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This paper was published in TD: The Journal for
Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa which is a journal devoted to
promoting the concept of transdisciplinary research. The aim is to create
knowledge through an interdisciplinary approach using natural and human science
as the foundation.

 

The TD journal publishes annually, the types of articles published
include; original articles (3500-7000 maximum of 60 references), review articles
(2500-4000 maximum of 40 references) and editorials (less than 800 words
maximum of 10 references). This journal is reviewed through a double-blind peer
review. This journal is an open access journal which means all content can be
viewed freely without charges.

 

The document that this assignment focuses on is an original article
which is written in a formal scientific manner. From the information stated
above on the intentions of the journal, it can be perceived that the journal is
writer for professional uses and also for academic population simply because it
is easily accessible.

 

Craffert, P. (2015) makes it clear that the aim of the study
is to look at both OBEs and NDEs and how it contributes to the idea of nonlocal
consciousness.

He does this by evaluating the validity of multiple studies
done on both OBEs and NDEs he uses studies from various field including neuroscience
and psychology and evaluates whether the studies actually contribute to the
idea of the nonlocal consciousness. Craffert, P. (2015) three main lines of
argument was evaluated through three different ways. The first is testimonies
of people who have experienced NDEs. The second is what happens during cardiac
arrest when there is allegedly no brain activity. The third is an argument
about veridical perception during out of body experiences. As the aim of this critical
review is to focus on OBEs, this assignment will focus on the third argument.

 

 

Summary / Evaluation Of The
Journal Article

This assignment will focus on evaluating OBEs which can be
found in chapter 4.3, it draws upon Veridical perception during OBEs, Craffert,
P. (2015) believes that it provides rhetorically and significantly the strongest
claim for nonlocal social consciousness.  Nonlocal social consciousness is the existence
of consciousness independent of the body and brain, which draws upon questions
of human existence, the essence of life and human destiny. (French, C. 2001; Engmann,
B. 2014.).

Craffert identifies that there are two possible sources of empirical data on
veridical perception these include firstly anecdotes or reports by NDErs (near
death experiencers) the second is field studies or designed studies testing
perceptual ability during OBEs. The first source of data comes from studies
which aimed at determining whether individuals are experiencing an OBE and if
it produces confirmable insights. Craffert does this by drawing upon multiple
studies which have been done from both sources

 

Evaluation Of The Evidence Presented In The Article

 

Anecdotes or reports by NDErs (near death experiencers)

The first evidence that Craffert draws upon to support his argument
is a set of 150 cases of OBEs linked to NDEs, the researchers of this study is
Janice Holden and David Rousseau they claimed that “90% of NDE reports of
perceptual experiences during cardiac arrest or prolonged respiratory arrest
contain no errors” and “35% of these reports have been independently
corroborated” (Holden, Janice M. 2009.).

 

Holden identifies that the perceptions of OBEs vary from
weak to extremely strong Craffert identifies that she does not give any
indication of what “extremely strong” means and how many of the cases that are
included in the evidence that are weak. Essentially it could be seen that the
evidence provided could be weak evidence. Holden says that most cases did not
involve cardiac arrest which means it is difficult to rule out healthy working
brains during the NDE. Her strongest argument is the volume of the anecdotes
collected over the past 150 years suggest that veridical perception “is real”.  It could be seen that the evidence from Holden
is insignificant and does not contribute to understanding of OBEs however it is
not a surprise as the title of the study is obviously included to variety in
evidences as it is identified as “claims about veridical perceptions” (pg10).

 

Craffert discusses some of the cases from Holden’s research in the section called
“strong evidence for out-of-body perceptions”, Craffert begins with Pam
Reynolds work which is classified as the “most detailed and objectively
corroborated content” (Holden 2001). In this section, it is an account by Pam Reynolds
where she gave a very detailed description of her surgery and she believed that
she was having an OBE. However according to Michael Sabom who documented her
case after eight years of the event happening he identified that she was
actually awake when she was put under local anesthesia when she experienced
these things she mentioned. Pam Reynold’s case was also documented by numerous
publications which took away from the validity of the study as “numerous publications claim that it took
place during her NDE while her EEG was flat”. This particular data set
did not need to be analyzed properly to identify if it actually was an OBE as Craffert
identified that Sabom was the only reliable source therefore it was clear that
it was not an OBE.

Another case was by a Dutch group of scholars, their cases consisted of hospital
incidents the. One of the case was of an old man who had an accident and
claimed that he recalled what happened during his car crash. However, the distinct
voice of the nurse he claimed to have seen in his OBE, Craffert identified that
it was possible that the man recalled the events from his accident (losing his
dentures and the nurse having them) from hearing the nurse’s peculiar and distinct
voice. Craffert goes ahead to list three other cases which have similar story
lines.

Field studies on OBE perceptions

Craffert then identifies there are two kinds field studies on OBE
perceptions, which identified as “the second part of vital evidence which could
explain veridical perception”. However, he only discusses one of them. His
summary of the field experiment was very brief and spanned over half a page
(pages 13/14) ……….

Analysis on evidence presented for OBE

It is apparent that Craffert’s aim was to discredit all the work he drew upon,
this assignment does not summarize every single detail of Craffert’s work but
his work is extremely bias, he consciously does not use any evidence or
theories to identify possible reasons as to why these OBEs were only
perceptions and not actual OBEs. Craffert did not really focus on effectively analyzing
OBES his work takes a short cut as he draws upon work that can easily be
discredited. Instead of “strong evidence”, it can clearly be seen that his aim most
especially in chapter 4 of his article was to discredit the possibility of OBEs
being real. Craffert should have found pieces of evidence that contributed
significantly to proof that OBEs exist and he should have evaluated them to see
if they explained non-local consciousness.

Craffert’s work is not very scientific, I would identify that is work is a
very cheap contribution to the field as it does not indicate that he actually did
very much research. His arguments are clearly very bias, as he only provides evidence
that discredits the exist of OBEs which removes the requirement for him to
explain how and why the studies he mentioned did not explain non-local consciousness.

It can be agreed that he did achieve the aims of his study due to the requirements
of the journal which he published in. As the journal requirements indicate that
the intentions of the journal is to focus on knowledge at “grassroots level”.
They believe that it is vital to explore this “grassroots level” of knowledge
as it becomes the foundation for further research. The requirement of each
study being published is that it is presented in the conventional scientific
report format. The editorial team acknowledges data that is both theoretical
and material based. TD prefer research that focuses on southern Africa,
notwithstanding they do accept and find refreshing articles that can make
contributions towards the understanding of science outside of one discipline.

Conclusively it could be seen that that all evidence presented in this article
was for him to be able to put forward the ideology that “there is no reason to
believe that consciousness can exist independently from a living brain”. Craffert’s
work does not provide evidence for how OBEs and NDEs point towards the reality
of nonlocal consciousness, but in fact his work identifies the lack of
empirical evidence in his field which is bias.

Explaination
For OBEs That Is Not Presented In The Article

This section will draw upon evidence for OBEs, through theories and contributors
to research on OBEs. OBEs have been widely reported and are usually associated
with NDEs. The Society for psychical research identifies that there are two
argument that are typically used to explain OBEs: that either spirit, mind consciousness,
etc leaves the body and the second is that it is a purely hallucinatory event
that can be explained though neuroscience and psychology.

In the twentieth century, there was a considerable amount of research done
to understand OBE. Psychologists who contributed to the study of OBE in the
field of parapsychology include Hector Durville (Durville, H. (1909).) he was a
well-known French student of magnetism and psychic phenomena. the idea of “subtle
bodies” and their manifestations, he provided evidence that the body was just a
place holder, “The physical body is seen at the place that it really occupies;
and at the same moment its phantom is seen at a distance. The sensations felt
by the phantom are reflected on the physical body.  The physical body is never in its normal
state during doubling.”. Another contributor would include Ernesto Bozzano (Bozzano,
E.1934/1937), he is known mostly for his analysis of death bead apparitions his
work scopes over most topic under parapsychology.  

The most generally used OBE accounts are derived from books
and articles these include; Sylcan J Muldoon’s influential book “Projection of
the Astral Body (Muldoon & Carrington, 1929)”, the second includes a book
published by JHM Whiteman (3£Whiteman, J.H.M. (1956). The process of separation
and return in experiences fully ‘out-of-the-body.’ Whiteman wrote about full
and half separations from the body.

 

As previously mentioned work done by Bozzano and Muldoon and
Carrington were quite popular and it provided a frame work of OBE features. Some
researchers analyzed potential features of OBEs, in a study by Alvarado, C.S.
(1984) he reported a few features these include; “awareness of the sensation of
leaving the body (34%), awareness of being connected to the body (26%), and
shock on return to the body (33%). Less commonly reported features were seeing
a ‘cord’ connecting the out-of-body projection with the physical body (0%);
encounters with ‘spirits’ (7%); hearing music (8%); and remembering earlier
life events (15%).”

 

Modern theories of OBE, in disciplines such as psychology
and cognitive science OBE’S are characterized as dissociative experiences which
come from numerous psychological and neurological factors. Scientists identify
OBEs as an experience from a mental state, they belive it could be a dream or
an altered state of consciousness that does not link to the paranormal.
Psychologists like Charles Richet (1887) believed that OBEs are no different from
dreams and they are moments created by subject memory (like Holden’s reference
to the man who had an accident) and imagination processes. James H. Hyslop
(1912) believed that OBEs occur when an individual’s mind in a subconscious state
dramatizes certain images to give the impression that the individual is in a
different/alternate physical location. Another theorist Eugene Osty (1930)
believed that OBEs were mere products of imagination. Psychology identifies that
there are more psychological and neurological explanations for OBEs

 

 

Conclusion

Overall the article is clearly very bias and is written to
discredit the existence of OBEs however it should have been approached in a much
more scientific manner, Craffert used studies done to discredit the possibility
that OBE’s exist however he did this with cases that were already questioned,
as a researcher it is important that whatever work you produce is contributing
to the field of knowledge that is out there. Craffert discredits himself as his
work draws upon work that has already been critiqued, what he should have done,
is use psychological or neurological explanations to explain why the cases were
flawed. This would have been a much better contribution. The title of the work
was also extremely misleading as out of the fourty pages; four pages were
references and five pages (pages 10-15) discussed OBEs and half of that
provided futile evidence whilst the other half contained criticisms. As a whole,
the paper is very simplistic and lack any true scientific knowledge to back the
claims presented. It does achieve the aims however the quality of the written
work is questionable. 

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